Ride Level: Blue - Moderate
CX, Gravel and CX bikes | GPX Route | Traffic-free | Natural, Gravel and Single Track | 160 km/100 miles
Dungeness is up there with Brighton as one of the go destinations cyclists have when heading southeast out of London. Perhaps it's the desolate wind-swept gravel that draws the cyclist?
Starting atop of Crystal Palace the route makes a beeline for the countryside, cutting across the North Downs near Knockholt before diving down Old Pol Hill to Otford. There’s an unavoidable section of busy road to Seal, but you’re soon back in the woods riding past the gorgeous Ightam Mote, where it's worth grabbing a coffee in the National Trust Café.
Decent gravel paths bring you to Plaxtol (it’s a village and not some medication) where you cross the Bourne and start the gravelly climb up into Mereworth Woods.
Ride of contrasts this, one minute you’re deep in the woods, the next in a new very twee town. It’s a faddle riding through here but there soon there’s a magnificent descent into the Medway Valley.
Follow the Medway towpath into Maidstone, up the High St and out through Mote Park to join Pilgrims Way.
Pilgrims Way alternates between a quiet tarmac lane and a well-made gravel path, with some sections of, frankly fantastic riding, between here and Westwell. Look out for the quaint half-timbered pubs along the way - but do check how busy the kitchen is before ordering food.
From Westwell the route heads south, ducking and diving around the outskirts of the ever-expanding Ashford (best avoided) before you ride through the Orlestone woods to Ham Street and the Romney Marsh.
Pick up Pitt's Ditch, aka The Royal Miltary Canal (built to stop Napolean - Google it, it’s an interesting story) to Appledore. Quiet lanes lead you across the marsh, past the famous Fairfield Church before veering off following the dyke to Lydd.
From Lydd, you follow the road down to the tip of this desolate wasteland to the pair of lighthouses, and miniature railway and the dirty great nuclear power station.
Start and End Points
Start: Crystal Palace
Finish: Dungeness (option to follow NCR 2 west to Rye (approx. 5 miles) or East to Folkestone (approx. 10 miles))
- Distance: 160 km | 100 miles
- Climb: 1225 m | 4000 ft
- Percentage off-road: 50%
- Trail surface: Natural | Gravel | Cycle Paths | Single Track
- Technical Grade: Blue - Moderate
- Mudometer - Reasonable, there are n muddy patches after prolonged rain.
Is this ride for me?
The main challenge of this ride is the distance, worth considering riding it over a couple of days.
There are suitable areas for unofficial free camping on Pilgrims Way.
Is my bike OK for this ride?
Best ridden on CX, Gravel, MTB bikes.